E3 2017: Highlights from the Microsoft Xbox press briefing
Microsoft just concluded its Xbox press briefing for E3 2017, including the official name and price tag for the souped up, 4K Xbox One: the Xbox One X. Start memorizing that now, because grandma's going to have a hard time telling it apart from the Xbox One S during the holidays.
(Seriously is it a rule that everyone in games must suck at naming things...? Anyway, moving on.)
New hardware wasn't the only thing Microsoft brought to this year's press event -- it also showed off 42 new titles, over half of which it boasts as exclusive to the Xbox One family, and a few other surprises as well.
Xbox One X
Long bandied about under the names Project Scorpio or Xbox 4K, the Xbox One X (sigh...) will launch this November 7th priced at $499 US. The console's most obvious feature is its "true 4K resolution," together with cross-console support for all existing Xbox One titles and backwards-compatible Xbox 360 titles. Despite the beefy hardware, it's also touted as the "smallest Xbox ever," because small form factor is very in right now.
In conjunction with the rollout, Microsoft announced free 4K-optimized versions of much of its existing library, including Forza Horizon 3 and Halo Wars 2.
Original Xbox Titles Coming to Xbox One
The Big Three -- Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft -- are primed to expect questions about backwards compatibility whenever new hardware is announced. Understandably, some executives are a little ambivalent about the idea: does the expense of accommodating backwards compatibility outweigh the financial gain of a wider back catalog; how do you keep pushing customers toward new titles if you don't intentionally make the old stuff obsolete; etc. There are the optics of the thing to consider too: with games preservation and accessibility on a lot of people's minds these days, having one device that can keep old software accessible might be worth the goodwill you engender, even if it isn't bolstering your revenue.
Microsoft seems geared toward being the crowd-pleaser again this year, as it announced that in addition to current backwards-compatibility with Xbox 360 titles, it was planning to extend the Xbox One library to include original Xbox titles like Crimson Skies. We'll be seeing the first of these rolling out later this year.
Big Box Titles
Xbox presentations tend to place a lot of emphasis on highly polished, triple-A products. This year's press briefing outdid itself by unveiling Forza Motorsport 7 in conjunction with an actual Porsche, because at an event like E3 the best way to throw down the gauntlet is often ostentatious consumption.
Forza Motorsport 7
It had cars.
The latest installment in the popular Metro series of Russian post-apocalyptic survival shooters is due out sometime in 2018, and will feature lots of snow, probably radiation, and giant bloodthirsty rats.
Assassin's Creed: Origins
Ubisoft may've backed away slightly from annualizing its Assassin's Creed franchise but that didn't mean the studio was actually easing up on the throttle, like, at all. This Assassin's Creed takes us all the way back to ancient Egypt and the very first Assassin, as well as his eagle buddy.
Sea of Thieves
Rare's upcoming open-world pirating-on-the-high-seas game has pirates, high seas, and sharks.
The latest installment of Microsoft's over-the-top open-world series stars Jerry Crews. It will launch alongside the Xbox One X on November 7th.
The Korean MMO heretofore best known for its standalone character creator is finally coming to the west on the Xbox One.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
2014's Shadow of Mordor pioneered a new kind of adaptive enemy AI known as the Nemesis System, which pretty much everyone agreed was way better than the whole rest of the game. Taking this feedback seriously, developer Monolith is orienting a much larger chunk of Shadow of War around the Nemesis System, with lively, chatty orcs to brainwash into serving your cause (in a lively, chatty way).
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War will arrive October 10th.
A brand-new setting from Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare, we got our first taste of Anthem yesterday at EA's press briefing, but today was a full-on showcase of multiplayer co-op running-and-gunning in a lush sci-fi world. Comparisons to Destiny are pretty much inevitable here.
Anthem is currently slated for a first quarter 2018 release. No word yet on which aliens you get to kiss.
Even a powerhouse like Microsoft couldn't fill a slate of 42 games all from only major studios. Interspersed among the big names above, we saw plenty of smaller, more intimate titles from independent developers.
This co-op shmup inspired by classic cartoons is now on its third year of E3 teases, but the wait seems to be almost over: it now has a firm release date of September 29th for Xbox One and PC.
Fullbright Company's follow-up to its landmark first-person exploratory title Gone Home is a space station mystery game, Tacoma. If you haven't checked out our interview with director Steve Gaynor, that's something you ought to rectify quickly.
State of Decay 2
Zombie survival games seem to finally be on their way out, but State of Decay's pairing of survival and interesting sim mechanics has helped distinguish it from the pack. This sequel, which will use the Xbox Play Anywhere feature to join players from both Xbox and PC, is due out in 2018.
In addition to full cross-platform compatibility, Mojang is rolling out a community marketplace and a "Super Duper Graphics Pack" complete with high-end lighting and water effects later this year.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Square Enix and Dontnod's standout serialized tale of sad teen lesbians is getting a three-part prequel series beginning in August.
I have no idea what this is but I don't see how a guy can call himself "PlayerUnknown" when he's introduced by his full name.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
This follow-up to 2015's gorgeous indie platformer Ori and the Blind Forest is sure to make at least one of your adult friends cry.
And the Rest...
We saw a flurry of additional titles like Ashen, a Dark Souls-esque ragdoll dungeoning game, former VR exclusive Super Lucky's Tale, Japanese titles including Code Vein and Dragonball Fighter Z, indies including Arftul Escape, and a whole slew of titles coming to us via ID @ Xbox, seen below.
You'll be seeing in-depth coverage on a number of these titles later in the week, so stay tuned!